Messy play

Messy play must be one of the most loved activities in our setting. And for this we went all out. To set the premises we did it in the garden and we dressed the children in waterproof suits so they basically had the freedom to get as messy as they wanted.

Our messy morning involved painting. For this we set up a painting table with paper, pots of paint and different types of paintbrushes and sponges.

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Then we had the tuff tray with different coloured paints and added some salt to it to make it less slippery when the children stepped in. Next to the tuff tray we put a long white plastic board where they could make feet stamps.

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Also had a few smaller trays with paints and objects that leave traces-cars, balls etc.

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And last was a water station where they could wash their hands and feet or use the water to add to the paints.

It was amazing to watch the children concentrate and be creative.They held conversations between them while painting, shared the pots and the paint brushes, mixed the colours and explored what happened when they did so, imagined and named their paintings.

In the tuff tray they explored the sensory feeling of the paint on their feet, the mix of paint with the salt and how the paint changed texture when they added water.

It was a messy morning but very successful. This was the array of their beautiful paintings at the end of the session.

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Trip to the seaside

What’s a better way to celebrate summer holidays if not with a trip to the seaside?

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We could not wait for the summer holidays. During school time, you get into a routine and every outing has to be carefully planned and timed because of the school runs. But summer means freedom. No stress about leaving at a certain time, even though the earlier the better and no pressure to be back by 3 o’clock .

So one of our summer outings was definitely the seaside. Now, the English seaside is not the traditional sandy beach but after a bit of research we found Minnis Bay which is the closest sandy beach to London.

Prepare yourselves for a long post with loads of pictures.

Swimsuits, hats, suncream, pack lunches, windbreaker and excitement at the highest levels, we were set to go.

Once there, we had lunch, got changed and were ready to play. The children were a bit wary of going in the water at first, so we started playing with sand, digging, filling buckets, making sand castles and burying each other in the sand.

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When the children worked up the courage to go in the water, we found it surprisingly warm. There was lots of seaweed which looked and smelt unpleasant but ended up not bothering us after a while. We looked for crabs and picked up loads of seashells to bring back home.

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We spent a lovely day at the seaside, the children enjoyed it very much.

In case you are planning to go, here are a few helpful tips- Minnis Bay is a sandy beach located near Margate in Kent.It’s not the most beautiful(as we were led to believe by reviews) because of the seaweed but you soon forget about it, once the fun begins.It has free parking, but just in case you don’t find a space, there is a car park. The toilets are located at the entrance of the car park, spacious and clean. The only downside is that once you are on the beach, walking back to the toilets is quite a distance, especially with young children. There is a bar and restaurant selling drinks and ice cream and what we liked the best were the life guards that stayed near the water the whole day rather than their cabins, giving you a feeling of safety and protection.

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We will be definitely going back next year.

Visit to the Library

Books…ok I’m stuck on this word, I mean what is there else to say than this word-books. You might not understand this unless you know me, books are one of my favourite things in the world.But, enough about me, this post is about getting children love books from a young age and visiting the local libraries is the best way to do it.

They get to walk around and have their own personal experiences with books. Maybe a bright colourful book cover will spark their interest, enough to pick it up and have a look at it. Maybe they’ll find a book with their favourite character, animal or things they are interested in at the moment.

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You can’t force a child to like books but you can create environments for them to experience books, give them opportunities to explore books. Library visits are perfect to do this.

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According to the EYFS, books and printed materials are to be enjoyed by children from birth to 11 months old. Next step is for young children to start handling books with interest, listen to stories and have favourites. Between the age 30 to 50 months they should look at books independently, handle them carefully and know the correct way of holding them up. From 40 to 60 months their vocabulary and form of speech will show the influence of their experience of books.

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Listening and attention skills are put to test during story time. We all know that young children have a short attention span so the satisfaction of them sitting and listening to a story is immense. A good book, maybe some props, even if it’s only your voice, will help and draw them in, catch their attention, sit and concentrate until the end of the story.

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I would say, this was a successful library visit.

Fairy Garden

The Fairy Garden is one of our most beloved projects we have done at the allotment. The time, effort and passion that has gone into this is unbelievable so brace yourselves for a magical journey. Bring your imagination and I’ll sprinkle a little bit of fairy dust and we can begin.

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It all started with the decision of making use of the pond area. If for the first two years we concentrated on the plants and the allotment area itself, this year we took interest in the pond area.

So first we cleaned the pond and all around it. That’s when a plan began to take contour.

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Next were the ideas. Obviously, we researched the internet for inspiration and began searching items for the fairy garden -shopping trips to poundshops, charity shops and boot sales. Maybe grandma’s decorations or our own boxes of trinkets we don’t use but never found the to strength throw them away.

Once confident we had enough things to get started, we put on our imagination hats and began.

A broken flower pot we had picked up during a drive was the first to take shape as a small fairy world. Now be careful, keep on the white pebbly road and don’t give in the hypnotising whispers of the fairies. Whatever you do, don’t enter the small house at the top. You might not be able to find your way out.

Next was the fairy tea log with a special entrance guarded by a cheery looking dwarf. But be prepared, unless you know the password, you can’t come in. The children chose “Open sesame” but don’t tell them I told you.

The central piece is a beautiful glass stand held by an angel. This is a very sentimental piece as it was given to us by grandma (Norman’s mum) and we felt it doesn’t need much decorating, just a special place so it went in the centre.

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What’s a fairy garden without the mysterious woodland area- only here you will find mushrooms that will give you magical powers, owls that can tell you stories from far away lands, squirrels and hedgehogs…And there is another special entrance to the woodlands, but you know the password already. Just remember, don’t tell…

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The newest addition is our very own miniature rookery!!!Very excited about this one, took a long time to complete and it was done with love and dedication.

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These are the main areas of the Fairy Garden.In between them, we have placed flowers, random ornaments and decorations. It has been completed by laying down moss, painting the fence green and rainbow bricks around the pond. In the centre of the pond is another water fairy who is being kept company by two goldfishes. Can you spot them?

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I hope you enjoyed this tour of our magical fairy oasis, I will leave you with a few close-ups to spark your imagination and give you ideas for your own stories…

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Water play

Summer means water play, right?

Well, we have done them all: you name it-we did it. Paddling pool, ocean small world, funnels, measuring jugs, we even went to our local park paddling pool and did a trip to the sea side. And today we bought a water slide for the garden so more water fun coming.

Water play is simply fun.It is a free basic resource which offers so much, children can experiment with it, feeding their curiosity and imagination.

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Children find water fascinating, it’s appropriate for all developmental stages and ages.It’s a good resource for developing skills such as communication, making relationships, experimenting, problem-solving, learning how things work, being inquisitive. And the best of all, it’s so much fun and all for free.

Here are a few pictures to prove it.

Measuring, filling and emptying containers, learning about the mechanics of a funnel.

Imaginative play, learning about water animals, being inquisitive about their habitat, sensory play with water, pebbles, sand, shells.

Finally, splashing, paddling and having fun

And the ultimate experience, trip to the seaside, but more about this on a separate post.

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Allotment Harvest

Yes the time has come!Today we harvested and it was good, actually it was better than good. It was amazing! We had the biggest harvest yet.

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Ah the feeling when all your hard work has paid of…I can’t explain it but I’ll try. As you might have got the hint- the allotment is our happy place. We spend a lot of time there and in all honesty is hard work to look after the plants and at the same time involve the children, make every visit a learning experience.

So when harvest time comes and you get a rich one, wow, it’s the best feeling.It’s a feeling of achievement and the children enhance it with  their expressions of amazement. The shrieks of joy when they spot more potatoes as we dig them out the ground, trying to learn and remember that the big green vegetables are called marrows, asking over and over if they can eat the apples, like not believing that it’s actually the time do so.

Ok now I’ll show you what we harvested.

Firstly, the potatoes. I think the children learned the most about the process of growing vegetables through the potato patch.

Let me show you a little timeline of their involvement.

Step 1- digging the ground in preparation for planting. This is early spring, maybe even February, but don’t tell anyone, we couldn’t wait to get started.

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Step 2- planting the potatoes. Learning that the shoot has to stay on(a few were taken off because they didn’t know what they were) and the potato has to be planted with the shoot on top. This happened at the beginning of April.

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Step 3- observing the potatoes grow, taking care of them, watering them all through May-June-July

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Step 4 – harvest in late July, early August.

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And a very good harvest, might I add. Enough to share with the children who proudly told us they had mash for dinner from the allotment potatoes. Now if that’s not a feeling of achievement, I don’t know what is.

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Enough of the potatoes, we have more.

Cucumber, our first ever cucumber. This was the first year we planted cucumbers and we weren’t disappointed.

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Also courgettes and marrows- the richest plant in vegetables- we harvested so many already and there’s more to come.

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Beans, apples, more salads and even yellow tomatoes

Allotment Annual Barbecue

Our annual allotment barbecue has definitely become a tradition now. For the third year, on the last Sunday of the school term, we invite all our families (past and present) to the allotment, to enjoy a day in the fresh air, show them around the new projects, the crops – all this accompanied by food and drinks. Perfect day.

In preparation for the big day, we created a scrapbook full of pictures, showing how everything progressed- the crops, the projects, children’s learning and the fun they had.

Also, we spent the Saturday before, tidying up, doing final touches or things that we couldn’t do with the children around.

The main project was rearranging and tidying up the Fairy Garden and the pond area. Cutting the grass, fixing the swings, refreshing the games table were other things we worked on. Go team Dee’s Childcare!

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Leaving the allotment on the Saturday evening, after a long’s day work, I took a few snaps, feeling very happy and excited for the next day.

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And when finally the day came, we had such a nice time, everyone came with food, drinks and good mood. The children were so excited to show their parents around, we didn’t need to intervene.

The older children took over the little road, doing their own thing- racing games, gymnastics shows and the younger children spent time in the mud kitchen and sand pit. No surprises there.

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IMG_2199 Towards the end we harvested some potatoes, courgettes and marrows for our guests to take home and then took a group picture , a memory to keep for years to come, to remind us of all the lovely people and the good time we had together.

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I’ll leave you with a little message, written by one of our parents in the scrapbook which summarises the day

“Once again an amazing bbq event, that brings all the Dee’s Childcare families together in one place at the same time. And what nicer place to be but the DCC Allotment, where everything is green and fresh, where parents and children experience nature. Looking forward to next year.xxx S.”